Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool head into the next round of fixtures at the top of the Premier League table – and the former Swansea manager will be delighted with the way in which his side have adapted and improved since the previous campaign.
Based on the evidence gathered in the first few fixtures of this season, it appears as though the Reds have firmly grasped Rodgers’ methods and football philosophy. It may be early days, but three consecutive 1-0 victories demonstrate a number of valuable qualities which could help guide the Anfield outfit to a top-four place come May.
Last term, Liverpool were used to both controlling games through possession and playing attractive football. However, there seems to have been an upgrade so far this season. The current side are more resilient, as shown by the three shutouts they have achieved already. In the last campaign, the Reds failed to achieve a clean sheet until their seventh top-flight fixture.
Rodgers’ men did then go on to stop the opposition from scoring on another 15 occasions, but the Merseysiders were still surprisingly inconsistent at the back, conceding three times at Stoke and at Southampton, shipping three at home to Aston Villa and twice against West Brom. Time will tell whether those inconsistencies have been fixed for good, but Liverpool have been evidently more difficult to beat so far this season.
Rodgers’ team have a stronger mentality, too, resulting in the Reds closing out games more often. Within the first two months of the 2012-2013 season, Liverpool had managed to throw away valuable points against Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton after taking the lead. Significantly, while their opponents have had strong spells and chances to peg the Anfield outfit back during games this season, Liverpool have kept calm and clinched the points, which has aided the development of a winning spirit within the squad.
Again, it may perhaps be too early in the season to draw firm conclusions, but the Reds look more of a well-oiled machine this term – a side able to grind out results by keeping control of possession, playing attractive football, making the most of the one excellent opportunity which has come their way, being resilient and developing a good team spirit.
That Liverpool are managing to score goals and win games without arguably their best player in the form of Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez tells much of the story. When Suarez was handed a lengthy suspension for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April, many supporters, pundits and neutrals believed that the Merseysiders would not be able to cope without their star man.
Since then, Liverpool have played seven Premier League fixtures without Suarez, winning six of them and drawing one. There is a good team spirit running through the squad – and it is this spirit which could help Liverpool achieve success this season.
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